Nicola Sturgeon under fire as Gillian Martin comments on minority groups come to light

Nicola Sturgeon has come under fire for appointing Gillian Martin after alleged comments the MSP made towards African Americans and Jews came to light.

Opposition parties today called into question Ms Sturgeon’s own judgement by nominating Ms Martin and debated if she should quit as an MSP.

Some of the comments had been uncovered two years ago when she first became an MSP.

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Gillian Martin has been axed with "regret" from Nicola Sturgeon's cabinet. Picture: PAGillian Martin has been axed with "regret" from Nicola Sturgeon's cabinet. Picture: PA
Gillian Martin has been axed with "regret" from Nicola Sturgeon's cabinet. Picture: PA
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Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Tory Deputy leader Jackson Carlaw disclosed further comments which Ms Martin allegedly made in her blog.

He said: “This is a reshuffle that has been a year in the making and it should surely have been underpinned by a vetting procedure which is fir for purpose.

“I also came across the fact this morning that she said: `American Jews tip OK, but only if you’ve absolutely busted your hump and everything was faultless in the extreme. Often complain about the quality of the food then the small portions

`American blacks don’t tip at all - tip next too nothing. To be avoided. The waiters also black remember, would do anything to avoid serving a table of blacks or be openly disappointed if allocated to one.’”

Mr Carlaw added: “ I’m sorry that is shocking. I can’t make light of that.”

He went on: “This is a judgement about the First Minister herself, she’s done this job long enough. Thin excuses don’t really cut it.

“A reshuffle a year in the making ought not now to stand as the most notorious reshuffle in the history of the Parliament.”

Labour’s Rhoda Grant said Ms Martin’s comments have offended “every minority group.”

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“Common sense has prevailed and I welcome that the First Minister has a had a change of heart with regard to this appointment,” Ms Grant said.

But she added: “This appointment calls into question the very judgement of the First Minister - did she know about these comments before this appointment?

“And if she believes that Gillian Martin is not fit to be a minister, is she really fit to be an MSP?”

This was met with angry calls of “outrageous” from SNP benches.

Ms Sturgeon later said she accepted the criticism of her decision to appoint Ms Martin.

“I take the comments that have been made today absolutely on the chin - as First Minister that is part of my responsibility,” she said.

The First Minister said she had not been aware of the comments read out by Mr Carlaw, but appealed to MSPs to give the Aberdeenshire East MSP another chance.

She added; “Gillian Martin has been a member of this Parliament for two years now and people across the chamber have got to know her well.

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“I would simply ask people to ask themselves in their heart of hearts, do they believe that the comments that have been read out, however ill-advised they were, and I do not take issue with that, reflect the person or the views of the person they have come to know.”

Commenting on the announcement that she will not be nominated for approval as a Scottish Junior Minister, Gillian Martin MSP said:

“I fully accept and understand the decision that the First Minister has taken.

“In a blog I wrote 11 years ago across a range of issues I used language that was inappropriate and offensive. I reported comments from other people which have caused offence, and made statements in a way which does not represent my views then or now.

“I deleted this blog some time ago precisely because I accepted that it contained unacceptable content – but I recognise that these posts should never have been published in the first place.

“That is entirely my responsibility and I am deeply sorry.

“When parts of this blog were last raised publicly two years ago I apologised – and I unreservedly apologise today.

“Since my election as MSP for Aberdeenshire East in 2016, I have always campaigned hard for equalities and I will continue to do so.”

The SNP have been approached for comment.